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Friday, May 17th, 2013

5 Ways With the Saarinen Dining Table

Becky

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We are so proud that we offer Saarinen Dining Tables from Knoll. They are a mid-century modern classic designed by Eero Saarinen to help “clear up the slum of legs,” both table and chair. Pedestal bases reduce the number of legs from four to one, and both the tables and chairs have come to be known more commonly as tulip tables and tulip chairs.

Available with marble, laminate, granite, wood veneers and more, the tables come in several sizes. The greatest thing about these tables is that they fit in everywhere, from serving as the main dining table in the center of an elegant dining room to a small kitchen table in a colorful eat-in kitchen. The table is a classic mid-century modern piece that does not go out of style.

A nod to Sputnik. This retro-inspired room by Kristen Grove is definitely mid-century modern inspired, but has a fresh look with its lovely floors and updated takes on .

Clean organic contemporary. Croma Design mixes pedestal and legs, marble and wood with a backdrop of grasscloth in this harmonious contemporary dining space.
A mix of old and new. A wide age-range of furnishings within traditional architecture creates quite the combination. The table fits nicely into a modest-sized corner, and in this case, plays off the curves of the classic Cherner chairs and Patricia Urquoila Caboche light. (via Remodelista, photograph by Photography Lisa Duncan and Wayne Miller)

Paired with its old friends, the Eames and Mr. Nelson. This room has a warm yet somewhat minimal vibe, combining several mid-century classics in including Eames chairs and a Nelson Ball Pendant Light. The sideboard, pewter pieces and artwork warm it up and infuse it with the owners’ personalities, thus keeping it from looking like a catalog shot. (via Plastolux, photograph by Chris Nguyen)

Partying it up with bentwood chairs. A Saarinen table paried with fanciful bentwood chairs makes for an yummy eat-in kitchen table, slum of legs be damned!

Shop all Saarinen tables

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Friday, March 8th, 2013

On Sale Right Now: Kartell and Pablo

Becky

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Hey All!

Just wanted to let you know we have some great sales going on right now. If you’ve been coveting an iconic piece from Kartell, now is the time to hop on it! Prices have been slashed 20%, today through March 25, 2013.  You may not even realize how many iconic pieces Kartell offers; check them all out here.

Kartell FL/Y Suspension Lamps

Here are a few that have been on my wish list for quite some time; I think if I had to choose just one today, it would be the Kartell Masters Chair as it is so clever, and because The Master just arrived from Netflix, so I’m taking it as a sign. The Masters Chair combines the silhouettes of three iconic mid-century modern chairs, Arne Jacobsen’s Series 7 Chair, the Eames Shell Chair and Eero Saarinen’s Tulip Chair. It’s the one in the top left corner below:

Kartell on sale

Pablo Tube Top Colored Small Table Lamps


Also, Pablo is 15% off now through March 19, 2013. From floor (lamps) to ceiling (lights), Pablo has an innovative and stylin’ solution for just about any lighting you may need. Check out all Pablo products here. Here’s a sneak peek at at a few of my favorites.

Pablo Lighting
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Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Designer Interview: Rapson-Inc.

Becky

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Architect and furniture designer Ralph Rapson trained at Cranbook under Eliel Saarinen, designed furniture for Knoll, sketched the most charming illustrations of his designs, opened the first modern home decor store  in the Boston area with his wife in the 1940s and practiced as an architect.

Ralph Rapson

Today his son, architect Toby Rapson, and President of Rapson-Inc. Chris Reedy are carrying on the elder Rapson’s legacy, working with designers to re-release high quality Ralph Rapson designs, sometimes with a few tweaks they believe he would have approved of.

Chris, who lived in a Ralph Rapson house (above), met Ralph Rapson when Rapson knocked upon his door to check out how his design was holding up.  So, Toby, did you and your father make a habit of doing this at all the houses you designed?

Toby: I occasionally stop in at homes that my father or I designed. I’m sure that I get this penchant for dropping in unannounced from my Dad.

Chris: My son was only 1 at the time and had just strewn a crunchy layer of Cheerios all over, and the doorbell rings and it’s the great man himself come to look at what we’re doing with his house … Ralph pretended not to notice the chaos and kindly went about charming us all.

How long did it take after that until you two were launching this business together?

Toby: Well, the story is a bit long – my parents originally established Rapson Inc. in Boston during the 1940s selling modern living equipment as well as pieces designed by Ralph.  My father continued to design custom pieces for architectural clients and it wasn’t until 50 years later while working with my dad at Rapson Architects that we started dabbling in reproducing the Rapid Rocker.

This led to collaborating with Blu Dot, producing his Dwell Lounge, and working with other interesting teams of designers on additional prototypes.  After my dad’s death I felt strongly about continuing his design legacy and perhaps producing more pieces from his extensive design library.  My wife and I put together a show of Ralph’s furniture drawings in late 2010 to gauge public interest; it was quite successful.  But, my primary business is Rapson Architects so I knew I needed help to make a stand-alone business.

Chris: As it happened, I came to this impressive show, saw some prototypes, and wondered if Toby was looking for a business partner. The timing was right, I made my pitch, we started the company a little over a year ago, and it’s been a really, really fun time.

How did you choose which designs to release first?

Toby: So far, the choices have been pretty easy. First, we wanted to continue making the bentwood Rapson Rapid Rocker that my father re-introduced late in life.  Second, we decided to produce some of my father’s best-known designs for H.G. Knoll from the 1940s, we call these the Greenbelt Line.  We are also currently working on his iconic ‘Chair of Tomorrow’ and a few others.  The hard part as we move forward will be sifting through the vast options that my dad has given us.

Chris: Those Knoll designs are very important to telling Ralph Rapson’s story in design, obviously, but they also use natural materials that are very appealing today.  It turns out ‘natural modernism’ or ‘rustic modernism’ or whatever you want to call it today has quite long roots.  And the Greenbelt Line has those sculpted, cantilevered arms that are still so daring.

Toby: Yes, those arms are a signature piece of my father’s work.  Just as we were getting started with the Greenbelt Line, I ran into Greg Benson, the CEO at Loll Designs, and we started talking about doing outdoor versions in Loll’s signature material, recycled plastic.

Chris: This was a bit of a discussion; there are definitely Modern purists who might wonder about this.

Toby: But I know my father always wanted to push the envelope and I feel he would have loved knowing the pieces he drew long ago could be for outdoor use; particularly in such a responsible, innovative and incredibly durable material. The team at Loll has been great to work with and we’ve licensed these designs to them. I’m just sorry my father isn’t around to be a part of the fun.

What was the biggest challenge in re-releasing your father’s furniture designs?

Toby: Quality is always a significant challenge. My father’s signature is on each piece we make. Even though we’re a scrappy small company, he would not have wanted any less than perfect chairs to be delivered.

Chris: We take great pride in continuing Ralph’s legacy.

Toby: Luckily, we have found good partners who are excited to make Rapson chairs and understand we’re a small company entrusted with great designs.

What kept you going when the challenges mounted?

Toby: My father’s furniture designs are second to none.  His designs are embraced as modern icons by many, Chris and I just need to do our part.

Are you ever going to re-release the slatted coffee table? Because I want one.

Chris: Stay tuned.

Toby: I thought you were supposed to be the business guy.  Get her credit card number.

photo credit: Larry Weinberg

While we’re on that topic, which designs are you hoping to release in the future?

Chris: The next chair we do will be the first piece based solely off drawings Ralph left behind.

Toby: I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has said “your father drew like an angel.” But beyond that, his furniture drawings often included people sitting, lounging with a martini, reading a book, sunbathing, etc; his drawings had personality and his designs were scaled for people.  It’s astounding how faithful we can be to his imagination – that is, his renderings – and still have a chair that’s very, very comfortable.

Toby: Actually, the public had a say toward this new chair.  We had an opening with Danish Teak Classics; a local gallery that showcased our Greenbelt chairs and we asked the public to vote between three designs.  They made a wise choice.

Chris: In fact, we’re behind schedule because I took the first prototype home, put it in front of the TV, and didn’t want to give it back because it’s so comfortable. The chair actually seems like it’s trying to put you to sleep.

Toby: Becky, I know, you’re thinking “Give me a break! There are a lot of comfortable chairs!”  But my father developed his approach while working with Eliel, Eero, Hans and Florence, Harry, Charlie and others, and brought his innovation to early modern furniture design and the design of this chair that adds both character and comfort in a way that’s surprising and still unique and timely 60 or more years after he drew it.  We can’t wait to get it into production.

No break necessary; I can’t wait to check it out. I also like that you’re on a first-name basis with the greats (Readers, that’s Saarinen, Saarinen, Wegner, Knoll, Bertoia and Eames, I think)! Where can we see more of Ralph Rapson’s amazing drawings?

Toby: We have literally hundreds of drawings, but a nice selection is included in his biography, Ralph Rapson: 60 Years of Modern Design.

Is there anything else you’d like people to remember about Rapson-Inc.?

Toby: Most importantly, I want people to learn more about Ralph Rapson and his role in the development of modern design.  One goal of the company is to ensure the legacy of my father’s designs; I hope people will view what we’re doing at Rapson-Inc as a thoughtful extension of his design process and philosophy.  Moving ahead, we are embracing collaborators and innovative materials with the spirit of my father as we expand the catalog of Rapson designs in production.

Thanks so much to Toby and Chris for taking the time to speak with us today. Readers, All Rapson-Inc. products are 15% off through October 31, so get shopping!

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Thursday, August 30th, 2012

The New Classics: Predicting Iconic Furniture for 2050

Becky

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I ate up the cover story on The New York Times’ Home Section today; “The Classics, Circa 2050.” For one thing, I’m always trying to determine what the new classics are (i.e. new furniture that will eventually gain icon status, today’s equivalent of a mid-century icon like a Wegner Wishbone Chair or an Eames Shell Chair). Beyond aesthetics and one’s own judgement, a sign that a piece may be well on its way to icon status is if it’s a part of a museum’s collection. Another when prominent architects choose to use it in their own homes.

Anyway, I was very pleased to see a handful of my favorite products that Design Public carries made the cut. Here they are:

The Louis Ghost Chair by Philippe Starck for Kartell (this probably inspired the most discussion)

The Emeco Navy Chair already had mid-century icon status in my book, now the experts are choosing the latest version, made from 111 recycled plastic bottles, the 111 Navy Chair.

Kartell scored again, with their Bourgie Lamp by Ferruccio Laviani

Vitra’s Algue made the cut

Tod Boontje’s Until Dawn Curtain made the cut, we love the way his botanical cuts look on the Midsummer Light

There were a few others I would have added to the list:

Sori Yanagi’s Butterfly Stool, manufactured by Vitra

The Coral 600 Pendant Lamp by David Trubridge

Bend Seating Lucy by Gaurav Nanda

Blu Dot Modulicious Case Goods

Nobody asked me, by the way! But I’m asking you – Which recent furniture and accessories do you think will achieve icon status in 30 years? Keep in mind the process can involve becoming unpopular or passé for a decade or three and then re-appreciated later. Personally, I have trouble looking beyond chairs and lighting most of the time.

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Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Arne Jacobsen and the S.A.S. Royal Hotel

Becky

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Decades before the likes of Jonathan Adler were bedecking chic hotels with their designer touches, there was Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971). Jacobsen was a pioneering Danish architect who designed every last detail of the S.A.S. Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark. He even designed two chairs that went onto become modern icons, the Swan Chair and the Egg Chair for the lobby in 1958.


While many hotels tend to update and remodel periodically, the remodel of the S.A.S. Royal Copenhagen that occurred in the early 1980s was especially tragic. Well, not tragic for those who scored the original Swan and Egg chairs, which were not yet coveted by people the way they are today. Apparently, the hotel gave them away for a song. Fortunately, they did preserve one room, room 606. You have a good chance of scoring this room or at least getting a peek inside if you ask ahead of time (the hotel is now a Radisson). Flickr member Niquinho posted this great shot of room 606. How great is that aqua? It’s all very Don Draper-esque. Well, if Don Draper was Danish.

Room 606 SAS Royal Hotel Copenhagen

A more recent renovation honors Jacobsen’ legacy in a fresh way, with smart, contemporary spaces that give Danish modern style a big nod and incorporate the Jacobsen classics. In fact, I read somewhere that they spent about $500,000 snapping up a slew of licensed Swan and Egg chairs for this much-improved remodel. Here two Swan Chairs prove their versatility, serving as versatile occasional/office/dining chairs in a hotel room:

Two inviting Egg Chairs and ottomans in moss green provide great perches for reading the paper, catching a catnap or chatting with a colleague:


The new grand lobby enchants as its predecessor did during it’s grand debut over fifty years ago:

Planning a trip? Book a room here.

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